Lax Online Security Makes Hacking Your Way to Scientific Prominence Easy

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How easy is it to gain access to some of the biggest online hosts of academic research journals in the world, and then start appointing various versions of yourself to do peer reviews and issue acceptances for publication of your own papers? Thanks to lax online security and minimal skepticism from editors, it’s far too easy, according to a catalogue of some of the more well-known recent examples of scam peer-review rings in Nature.

“In the past 2 years, journals have been forced to retract more than 110 papers in at least 6 instances of peer-review rigging,” reports Nature. “What all these cases had in common was that researchers exploited vulnerabilities in the publishers’ computerized systems to dupe editors into accepting manuscripts, often by doing their own reviews. The cases involved publishing behemoths Elsevier, Springer, Taylor & Francis, SAGE and Wiley, as well as Informa, and they exploited security flaws that — in at least one of the systems — could make researchers vulnerable to even more serious identity theft.”

Publishing: The peer-review scam (Nature, November 26, 2014)

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